Best practice for CEOs: Michael Ebeid AM on the four things you must have to scale and grow your company

SurePact board member Michael Ebeid, one of Australia’s most accomplished executives, shares his tips for scaling and growing a business. 

Over the past 12 months, the SurePact team has been honing in on our business fundamentals to ensure they are both established and secure, ready to support our journey in scaling.

Michael Ebeid Headshot for article

We have taken this time to determine our processes and solidify the foundations of the product roadmap, a key step in making sure that as the business grows, the quality and consistency for customers remains at the high SurePact standard. 

Future Now Capital’s investment into the business in April 2021 has supported this process, including bringing on an experienced Board of Directors. As the former CEO and Managing Director of SBS Australia, Group Executive of Telstra Enterprise and a senior executive of Optus in its first ten years, board member Michael Ebeid adds an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience to SurePact at a time when we are focused on strong growth.

In particular, Michael offers superior expertise in scaling both a company and a team for success, a set of skills that SurePact has been able to lean on during this phase.

Is your company ready to scale up?

Michael says the first step in scaling any company is to think about it in terms of the four Ps: people, product, processes and planning. 

“You cannot begin to scale a business until you have these four Ps in place,” he says. “Scaling is about incredible expansion in all facets of the business, which cannot happen without a strong foundation that is ready to go.

“All four of these categories must work together in harmony to create a base for successful scaling.”

People

“It’s crucial to have the right team and the right people,” Michael says. “People are at the core of your business and this expands into culture, values and trust. Even if you have the best product, platform or software, if you have not got people who you can trust to grow the business, then it will set you up for failure.

“To begin with, this is the time for a CEO to work on the business, not work in the business, which is only possible if you have the right people. You need people who you trust and you give autonomy to, allowing you to take a step back from the day-to-day minutiae.

“Each member of your team needs to have high self-initiative and self-motivation. They need to be self-starters. Your business does not have time for people who are only prepared to stay in their own lane, rather choose those who are prepared to be a jack of all trades – if a customer needs something, it’s all hands on deck.

“A key component of this is trust – colleagues trusting each other, and you trusting the people who are in high-level roles. If this is not established early, you need to switch out those individuals quickly, because they will become your weakest link and hold you back.

“This means that collaboration is critical in a start-up looking to scale up. If you’re not collaborating well with your colleagues, you will run into all sorts of issues around demarcation, letting others down and not delivering on promises.

“As you navigate this process, you need to acknowledge that it’s OK to bring on outside help when needed, too. It is not realistic to have all the skills required internally for the tasks that need to be done. Seek out consultants who have expertise in the areas you are lacking, who will work with and alongside you to create a strong and well-rounded business.”

Product

“Without a product or service, you simply don’t have a business,” Michael says. “Your product needs to be scalable in terms of either manufacturing or software, and systems need to be in place to handle the growth of your product.

“Making sure the customer demand is there for your product is a critical element of pre-scaling up a business. You need to make sure that what you are offering is what your customers are looking for, and that you are solving a problem.

“If you start to compromise on your service or quality of product, then it will impact your longer term reputation and relationship with your customers. If your quality levels start to show signs of weakening, all scaling needs to be paused immediately and energy redirected to bringing quality back on track. You need to catch this early before you get reputational damage, or worse, unhappy customers.” 

Processes

“You will really struggle growing a business without scalable processes in place, and teething pains are likely to pop up,” Michael says. “You must monitor and adjust your processes as necessary to feel confident that they can cope with an influx of volume and demand as you go forward. Processes need to be built, not for today, but for the growth that is tomorrow.

“Decisions need to be based on what you want the business to be, not what the business is today. Look ahead 18 to 24 months. What does the business look like? Think about space, inventory, staff, expansion, and take the bold risks now that will allow you to get to your long-term goals.”

It’s essential, too, that your processes reflect your company’s values and culture. 

“The values and the culture of the company must be clear, not only in your mind as the CEO, but also well understood by everybody in the business,” Michael says.

“When times get tough, and it is a little bit stressful growing so fast, the entire team can use the values to guide them in the right direction. Do your values mean forgoing profit for doing the right thing by the customer? Or is it profit at any cost? These values create a domino effect for a range of future business insights, including impacting demand and brand reputation. 

“Making sure everybody in the business understands your values and your culture is what you need in order to be a successful scale-up business.”

Planning

“More specifically, strategic planning,” Michael says. “This involves everything from business financials to cash flow. 

“I recommend having a Project Management Office (PMO), whose role is to analyse where the weak links are in either your people, product or processes, and flag early indicators of trouble ahead. PMOs can direct you to where in the business needs tweaking, or is having growing pains.”

In SurePact’s case, it’s taken years of planning – as well as firmly establishing the other three Ps – to put the company in the position it’s in today. 

“I have been on the Board for just under a year, and we have been really focussed on getting the right team in place so we can amp things up and grow the business,” Michael says.

“We’ve seen that the customer demand is there, and that we can bring together all the elements of people, product, process and planning to help scale the business.

“In the past 18 months, SurePact has seen tremendous feedback from all of the clients that have been onboarded. We’re hearing that SurePact is saving them money and timing, allowing them to be more transparent in their projects and reducing risk in their major capital programs.

“Bringing these four Ps together has created an inspired team here at SurePact, secure in the knowledge that we have built and are taking to market something that businesses really need. That’s at the crux of why now is exactly the right time to start scaling up the business.”